COUNCIL chiefs have revealed they are set to review special relief it offers to charities and support organisations in East Staffordshire – in a move which could hit them in the pocket to the tune of thousands of pounds a year.
Bosses at East Staffordshire Borough Council have confirmed to the Mail that it does have plans to re-evaluate its discretionary rate relief scheme, an initiative whichallows groups such as the Midlands Air Ambulance, based in Tatenhill, to pay a reduced level of business rates and divert saved cash to boost charitable projects.
The move has been branded as ‘appalling’ by Burton’s MP Andrew Griffiths and he told the Mail that it was a ‘slap in the face’ to volunteers who spent hours every week raising cash for these vital causes.
The Mail understands that along with the ambulance charity, East Staffordshire Citizens Advice Bureau, Burton Mind and the Co-operative Learning Trust could be set to miss out on support from the scheme, costing all of the groups thousands of pounds.
Mr Griffiths told the Mail: “It is absolutely appalling that the council has decided to make this decision to hit these vital organisations in the pocket.
“How can it be right that the council can look to spend £15,000 to fund free swimming lessons and not think it right to continue its support of groups such as the Midlands Air Ambulance.
“I cannot begin to think what people who spend hours collecting and supporting such causes will think of this decision.
“I am sure that these will be appalled by what the council are doing.
“This is a truly shocking decision and is going to cost these groups hundreds, if not thousands of pounds that could be put to much better use elsewhere.”
A spokesman for East Staffordshire Borough Council said: “The council has not withdrawn or cut the award of discretionary rate relief for any organisation.
“It does have plans to review its current procedures and policies for discretionary rate relief as per the newly adopted corporate plan, and has written to all organisations in receipt of discretionary rate relief to inform them.
“Discretionary rate relief is an extra award of financial help that the council can give business rate payers to reduce the amount of business rates that they pay. Each application is evaluated on its individual merits, taking into consideration the organisation’s financial position, its sources of funding etc.”